A day in the life of a Chief Audit Executive (CAE)

Blogger: Satish Shenoy

IA @ BCAS Blog #2

The Blog on Internal Audit recently launched by BCAS prompted me to pen down my thoughts on what a day in the life of a CAE looks like – what are the activities and engagements that fill the day of a CAE?

As a precursor to writing this blog, I looked at my calendar for the past few weeks and based on that, I ‘curated’ a day in the life of a CAE, giving the readers a flavour of the myriad of issues and activities that keep a CAE engaged through the day.

In my search for some relevant articles, I chanced upon a beautiful article “Succeeding as a 21st Century Internal Auditor: 7 Attributes of Highly Effective Internal Auditors by Richard Chambers and Paul McDonald.” I thought to myself, the attributes listed in the article resonate with any leadership role in a business organisation, including that of a CAE.

(htps://global.theiia.org/news/Documents/7%20Attributes%20of%20Highly%20Effective%20Internal%20Auditors.pdf).

Here’s a sneak peek at my day:

I leave home at 7.45a.m. fresh after a good night’s sleep, my morning philosophical thoughts, a brisk 60 minute morning walk and a sumptuous breakfast. Purposefully, I do not make or take calls during the commute time as I use this as “Me-time” to plan my day. (On days that I am working from home, my commute time is replaced by ‘quiet’ time when I gather my thoughts to plan my day.)

My plan today includes:

  • Creating strategies for countering difficult issues on hand, including a very serious process deviation with a high impact and it’s honest reporting in the ensuing Audit Committee;
  • Planning for a structured 30 minute discussion with a Business Head to update him on the outcome of the work done by my team in the past 2 quarters;
  • Informal calls to two senior business leaders which could perhaps help me gather clues for audit planning and execution;
  • Discussion with two team colleagues to help them tackle some personal and work related difficulties;
  • Discussion with a team colleague who has displayed an exemplary performance in a specific tough assignment and has earned the praise of the business;
  • A pep talk to motivate a high performing team which has suddenly shown a downward trend in performance;
  • Conveying to the HR, the proposed steps to increase gender diversity in the team;
  • Reviewing the progress made on Deep-Dive Data Analytics assignment which was done in partnership with the Group Data Analytics Team, and;
  • Making time to attend an exciting program on Future Trends in Auditing organised by a professional body.

As I glanced through the article by Chambers and McDonald, I was happy to note that the 7 attributes (Integrity, Relationship Building, Partnering, Communication, Team Work, Diversity and Continuous Learning) that the article dwells on seem so aligned to my activities of the day!  I reflect upon the article and draw parallels with my day – I realize that each of my planned activity is aligned to one or more of the attributes.

I reach my office and I have a surprise waiting. There is a voice message for me that the Chairman of the Audit Committee wants me to talk to him @ 11am for 20 minutes – icing on the cake on a day that was building up to be yet another eventful day. 

As the day unfolds, I take a few moments to gather my learnings:

  • Not all things happen the way you plan;
  • Not all people react the way you want them to;
  • Some conversations are better than what you thought would be, and;
  • Some people will surprise you with their goodness.

As I reflect, I acknowledge some other attributes that we, as internal auditors, need to have – agility, use of technology, adoption of data analytics resulting in giving an assurance with 100% validation rather than on test basis, active listening and unflinching focus on results. Some other day, maybe I will write about these.

 As I am back in my car heading towards home, I introspect on my day, making a mental note of my unfinished agenda and new items lined up for the next day. I feel joyful, pleasurable, confident and contented – I indeed had a great day!!

What does your day at work look like? Is there something that you would like to change or do differently? Do you end your day with a sense of fulfilment?

I look forward to your feedback– let us have a peek into each other’s day, to make our days more fulfilling, more impactful.

The Blog solely reflects the personal views of the author(s).

56 thoughts on “A day in the life of a Chief Audit Executive (CAE)

    1. Very true Krishna Kumar. Each day is different and hence our response too should be different. It is very correctly said that if you expect something different to happen, then you need to do things differently. There must be something unique in what one does to stand out from the rest.

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  1. We all should do one thing differently, that is even small act or work can be done it differently at office which can justify or impactful of all your bigger acts.

    I want to change one thing that people at office during working hours are unproductive due to digital distractions, and that’s the main reason they’re slogging work like horses.

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    1. Yes Khushboo – you are right on the first comments. We have not only to do different things, but we must also do things differently. Regarding your comment on changing people, yes it is necessary at times, but my suggestion is that you focus on your work and do not get distracted by digital disruptions and be a role model for them. The process is slow by will certainly happen over a period of time. Bear with it and have patience.

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  2. Satish, so well spoken. Yes, this blog was hearing you speak on the nuances of what makes a good internal auditor a fantastic CAE. Superb

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    1. Thank you Hem – you too please try your hand at writing and you may surprise your own self – my good wishes are with you. Satish

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    1. Yes Amruta. It is always good to go over what you did in the day and what worked (so that you do more of that), what could have been done better (so that you don not repeat it in future) and what you could do differently (so that you are unique and stand out in the crowd). All the very best to you, Amruta. Satish

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  3. Uday Sathaye: Hi,
    I read the blog and it’s really interesting. Seven attributes have come out in an appropriate manner.
    Integrity, Relationship Building,Partnering, Communication, Teamwork, Diversity, and Continuous Learning each one of these characteristics throw light on what is expected from Internal Auditor. A good message from this blog is that one need to have a continuous dialogue with the management ,need to update the knowledge all the time, think out of box, take challenges and try to understand the other side of what one is thinking in
    today’s challenging times. One should always consider what is happening globally and try to correlate the same with what he or she knows.
    Good Job 👍🏼👍🏼🍫🌺
    Regards to Satishji, Khushi and all Contributors
    This will result in Value Addition
    CA Uday Sathaye

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    1. Namaskar Sathaye Saheb. I am really honoured to receive this message from you. You were, are and always be the guiding force for all of us in the Internal Audit Committee at the BCAS. Like in Cricket, may your second innings be more fulfilling than the first. Satish

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  4. Nicely written Sir. I also use my evening walk to delve upon topics of my interest. Number of thoughts cross your mind during that period.

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    1. Thanks Narinder. Yes great thoughts do come during the Me-Time. Try spending some time in the morning too and you will surely see how it will help you in your day’s routine. Satish

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  5. Very well written @Satish sir.
    All the readers have already shared about the wonderful things mentioned by you in this article. I would like to add that for me, the idea of “me time” is something which I have to consciously start working on. Especially in this covid times, when we are wfh and not commuting, it’s so important and relevant to spend those 30 minutes to plan, collect out thoughts, introspect in the morning and before calling it a day. Thanks for driving this point through this wonderful article.

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    1. Thank you Samprati – I have recently begun interacting with you thanks to the ICAI Forensic Standards. Thank you for the motivation and I am happy that you had a few take-aways from the Blog. It was a great team effort in writing, improving/suggesting changes & finally techno help from our dynamic young brigade of Khushi & Pratik.

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    1. Thanks Kostuv – I had to look up the Advanced English dictionary to get the correct meaning of “nuanced” in the context of writing. Yes the intention of the writer was to create visuals of how the day spans out and your sharp pair of eye and the sharp mind has caught it. Cheers to you, Kostuv. Satish

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  6. Very well articulated sir. After working with you for a long time I can correlate with this article very well. One this is sure “You plan your day very well”

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    1. Yes Bhushan. I certainly enjoyed every minute working with you and I humbly say that I learnt so many things from you. Well planned is half done, Bhushan. Satish

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    1. Thanks Ravi. You being the CFO of India’s largest Metro Rail Project (L&T Hyderabad Metro) would have so many stories to narrate. I have enjoyed the limited experiences of working with you and have enjoyed even more your inspiring talks at our internal fora. Satish

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  7. Satish – My complements for well written article on Day in Life of CAE. You have captured all aspects and challenges for CAE in particular and all Audit fraternity in General

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    1. Thank you Dhond-ji. You were one of my initial reporting managers and I learnt so much for you. Glad you liked the blog and happier that you took time out to comment. Rest when we meet next. Satish

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    1. Thank you Sir/Ma’am – wish you wrote your name. Yes the surprises is the best fun of the day and when handled well, it gives you the best satisfaction. Satish

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  8. Satish- it’s very clear that you love your job, and why not? Planning, preparation and effective execution,as highlighted in your blog is key.

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  9. Well spelt out thoughts. Excellent flow of thoughts giving importance to both planning and execution. Well written blog Satish!

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    1. Thanks LM. I can see that you still have the enthusiasm for “Audit” though you left the Audit Fraternity many years ago. Your comments have inspired me to continue to write (hope this platform gives me another opportunity, though)

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  10. I really liked reading that your day includes specific time for mentoring and nurturing team members – I do hope that in these remote working environment, young Internal Auditors are not deprived of such nurturing by seniors.

    A simple, yet profound article, Satish.

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    1. Thanks Nandita. You, yourself, has been and continue to be such an inspiration for many in the profession. I also acknowledge all the pain-staking effort in correcting (rather to use “Management” English, improving) my draft by going thru it word by word. Some part of the credit of nice words that I have been responding to in the last 30 minutes, goes to you. At the stage of life that I (read that as we….if you allow me) am/are in, all that I am now thinking of is how to give back to the profession which has given me so much. Sometimes, as head hits pillow, I wonder what I would have been if I was not an Auditor. Auditing is a wonderful profession and one needs to be creative all the time. Have a pleasant evening, my dear professional friend. My wife CA Lakshmi also conveys her hellos (between you and me, she is a great fan of yours…..bigger than me!!!!). Enjoy a hot cup of tea on us. Cheers. Satish

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice thoughts, An Internal Auditor is like a family Doctor, who will look after you as he knows you very well. In case you have a major issue he is the only who guide you the best available treatments. He is also the best person to assess your risks as he knows you for a long time. In this era of specialization, the role of family doctor( Internal Auditor ) is the most important being the first person to access the risk.

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  12. Good sharing Satishji Live experiences are always more speaking and contributing

    We await for your next, as mentioned

    I am sure this would motivate all of us to share their real life situations

    Thanks

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  13. Wonderful Satish enjoyed reading it. You are a great mentor. Know you since our childhood days and also working with you i have organized so many things from you. Yes the me time always help and also to plan well. Felt so nice reading the article and could corelate the attributes on our profession. You write so well.

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  14. Wonderful Satish enjoyed reading it. You are a great mentor. Know you since our childhood days and also working with you i have organized so many things from you. Yes the me time always help and also to plan well. Felt so nice reading the article and could corelate the attributes on our profession. You write so well.

    Like

  15. Sir very well written. “agility, use of technology, adoption of data analytics resulting in giving an assurance with 100% validation rather than on test basis” is becoming more important and challenging as well during current situation of lockdown. Would wait till you write more about these . Thanks.

    Like

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